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Shen, Hongmei
Toth, Elizabeth L.
The purpose of this study was to develop a theory of internal relationship management, and to propose a new way of measuring organization-public relationships by simultaneously examining the organizations' as well as their employees' perceptions of the quality of their relationships. It sought to contribute to theory-building on the process of relationship management from its maintenance through its quality to the consequences. An online survey was used to collect data. Usable questionnaires totaled 785 from 30 organizations. Data analytic methods included missing value analysis, exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, multivariate regression, polynomial regression, surface response tests, mediation tests, and reliability tests. The proposed measures of symmetrical relationship maintenance strategies, asymmetrical relationship strategies, organization-employee relationship characteristics, turnover intention, and contextual performance were found to be valid and reliable. The major findings included: first, the more organizations used symmetrical relationship maintenance strategies with their employees, the more likely both employees and the organizations reported greater trust, control mutuality, commitment, satisfaction, and less distrust in the relationship; and vice versa for asymmetrical strategies. Second, employees would have higher turnover intention when both employees and their organizations perceived higher distrust and lower trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction. Also, when employees were more optimistic than their organizations about their relationships, employees were more likely to leave the organization. Third, employees' contextual performance would rise as both these employees and their organizations reported greater level of commitment and satisfaction. However, employees' level of contextual performance would drop when incongruence increased. Lastly, mediation tests showed that the effects of symmetrical and asymmetrical relationship maintenance strategies on turnover intention and contextual performance were partially mediated by congruence of perceived relationship characteristics, excluding the dimension of distrust regarding the effect of relationship maintenance strategies on contextual performance. This study contributed to public relations theory by 1) clarifying and refining the conceptualizations and operationalizations of relationship maintenance strategies, congruence of perceived relationship characteristics, and organizational effectiveness, 2) proposing a new way to evaluate two sides of organization-public relationships, and 3) empirically testing a relationship-building model within organizations to develop a theory of internal relationship management.